YOU’LL be surprised to hear that no Scottish independence supporters have ever considered what government we might get after a Yes vote.
James Schneider, director of strategic communications for Corbyn and co-founder of the left-wing Momentum group, was appearing on a Novara Media event on the topic of “Is Labour a lost cause for socialists?”
The host went to the audience for questions, with someone then asking: “I’m a very proud Northern Independence Party member. My question is: Westminster is clearly not fit for purpose because of the Westminster elite, alongside a Prime Minister who makes jokes about Kermit the Frog at a conference.
“So, why is it hard for some young people to see all this, and jump ship from a clearly dead political party run by a bunch of centrists?”
Schneider was eager to answer, and wrapped Scotland into his reply too.
He said: “The Westminster system isn’t broken because it’s in Westminster, the Westminster system is broken because it is under the control of the British ruling class in its varying forms, and while I have sympathies with people saying ‘we don’t want to be part of this thing anymore, we’re going to have our own thing,’ whether that’s in Scotland, or Northumbria, or Cornwall or Wales, or anywhere else, you don’t automatically get socialism because you don’t have Westminster.
Sorry but must be one of the worst arguments against independence yet, “You’ll get a Scottish Boris Johnson, with a different accent”. He seems to think Scotland would still be part of “the British ruling class”. pic.twitter.com/fZMHfeRvgx
— Robert (@RobDunsmore) September 26, 2021
“Without changing, without organising, without having the force for a social transformation, in an independent Scotland, you’ll get a Scottish Boris Johnson, right?
“He’ll have a different accent, and look and sound differently, but essentially will be carrying forward the same interests for a different fraction of the British and international ruling class.
“So, it’s not that it’s a total distraction, the splitting up and breaking up of the UK and all the rest of it, but Westminster isn’t broken because it happens to be in London.”
In response, some were very uncharitably suggesting that the Trinity College, University of Oxford-educated Schneider’s views showed he had never been to Scotland.
This isn’t actually the case – his family had a second home in Glen Tanar, just by Balmoral Castle, so he would have popped up from London a few times we’re sure!
Many have been calling out the statement for its condescending nature and being patronising.
Amazing that someone could have been the strategic comms advisor for Corbyn and a) still be listened to and b) seemingly be completely unaware of the systematic impact of the failures of the Westminster system.
Did he do his job with blinkers on? How could he be so unaware? https://t.co/85bNv1vnax
— Tristan Gray (@tristangrayedi) September 27, 2021
Classic. I cannot imagine people more intelligent than me and my culture is automatically superior to any other, ever. https://t.co/KKQ8S4g4nV
— Mr. Douglas Clark (@DougieClark) September 27, 2021
Love it when london based English politicos patronise us 😍 https://t.co/Bxy3DUwgIj
— Josh ✌🏼 (@jhendy_10) September 27, 2021
those silly little Scots haven’t thought about what happens after independence, you see. They don’t have the foresight to have started organising for social change decades ago, like we noble English. That is why we are currently a socialist state and they are not. I am very smart https://t.co/aMm7nnKkgF
— Cara (@carasadhbh) September 26, 2021
Utterly *dripping* with condescension. (And a weird “what do you *mean* you want a seat of power outside London?” attitude) https://t.co/T2hsgGLaNp
— Laura O’Brien (@lrbobrien) September 26, 2021
‘You don’t automatically get socialism because you don’t have Westminster’. Do you think we’re total fucking idiots, man? Do you think we haven’t thought about any of this? If you’re going to lecture us, at least do the fucking reading. https://t.co/5vduPBsGrM
— James 💜 Loxley (@oldnorthroad) September 26, 2021
This patronising bollocks. https://t.co/IRRVnZCOiS
— The Hound of Oxter (@OfOxter) September 26, 2021
But does it work as an argument against independence?
Well, to start, nobody was making the argument that Westminster is broken “because it’s in Westminster” – in this case, anyway, because the disproportionate focus on London that comes with that can absolutely be part of the case for a Yes vote.
It also relies on us disregarding the many, many arguments for Yes from an economic standpoint (see our recent supplement with Believe In Scotland).
Others have suggested that we simply wouldn’t see a Boris Johnson in Scotland, as he’s so tied to the Empire, British nationalist mindset.
Beyond all this, though, even if the 34-year-old is spot in in his suggestion, Scotland would get the government it votes for – using a system of proportional voting, most likely, that Westminster does not – and that’s huge.
Schneider says that “without changing, without organising, without having the force for a social transformation, in an independent Scotland, you’ll get a Scottish Boris Johnson”.
At least in an independent Scotland we’d have the option of changing, organising, having the force for a societal transformation – right now, we can do all of that as much as we want and still be overruled with ease by votes from England as has been the case for decades.
Unfortunately, Schneider will be giving many Yessers flashbacks to Corbyn’s visits up to Scotland.
While he had policies supported by many here, and many among the independence cause, there was always utter confusion on his indyref2 stance.
If Scotland was an “equal partner” in this Union, we’d get better than this.